Sure, the tar was gone, but as one of the other counselors put it, “that thing ain’t nothin’ but a crack pipe for nicotine.”

I’m sure you’ve read about the wave of health problems, including deaths, believed to be a direct result of vaping.¬† But if you’re not aware of exactly how fast vaping has spread, CDC reports that sales of JUUL by themselves¬† jumped from 2.2 million devices in 2016 to 16.2 million in 2017.

That’s over one year, folks. The driving force: Young people.

Of course, some of that vaping involves cannabis (and probably other intoxicants) as well as nicotine. That’s thought to play a key role in vaping-related illness. A major issue that could well result in a total ban of certain cannabis products.

Still, from a public health perspective, we may be faced with a much larger problem in future. That is, what to do with all those kids who are growing up dependent on nicotine.

Some years ago I attended a promotional lecture for e-smoking, back when it was viewed as a breakthrough in tobacco cessation and the typical device resembled an oversized garage door opener. Addiction people were invited due to the abundance of smokers in the treatment population.

Even then, we saw an obvious downside to vaping. As one of the other counselors put it, “dude, that ain’t nothin’ but a crack pipe for nicotine.” If you weren’t already a heavy user, a few months on the vape pen would likely fix that.

Advocates acknowledged this but insisted it was healthier than sucking down tobacco toxins. Besides, they promised, the switch from cigarettes to electronic inhalation would ease the eventual transition to complete abstinence.

I’m sure happens some of the time, but not all that often. Though vaping may be superior to other common medical alternatives, it’s still not terribly effective in terms of promoting true cessation. Research suggests that as many as four in five users return to tobacco use.¬† If 80% eventually find their way back to cigarettes, vaping seems more like an extended vacation than a permanent move.

Why do so many vapers relapse? Some say it’s because the sensation of vaping just doesn’t measure up to the real thing. That’s led vape scientists to try increasing nicotine content. Also, we’re realizing that getting off the vape pen is not that easy. In fact, it may be more difficult than giving up Marlboros. Read along as one woman describes her experience.

That does sound worse than tobacco detox. She toughs her way through, but I’m sure many would not. Easier just to go back on the pipe, or the cancer sticks, or whatever.

Here’s a more complete explanation of the problem, from the Vox website.

In this case, in our attempts to curb smoking, we seem to have created a growing problem in a whole new generation of users– many of whom, raised in an era of widespread education about the health hazards of tobacco, might otherwise have never picked up a cigarette.

Now, they’re thoroughly dependent on nicotine. And if they ever do decide to switch from vaping to tobacco, their brains will be ready and waiting.

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